top of page


Dan Hanrahan's poetry and translations have appeared in Words Without Borders, Brilliant Corners, Shepherd Express, Babbelsprecht (Germany), among many others. 

Below, is a sample of Dan's work.







Leap Year is a 2018 chapbook collection of haiku and drawings on American jazz and blues artists.


Published by 

415 Records & Books / 





the ghost of buddy bolden

fire in his eyes

floats over the rooftops

of bronzeville june nights


swing a gate open

and follow a line

from the bayou

to chicago's stockyard miles

the second line drop step

of buddy bolden's gone storyville blues

blows a highwire signal

into chase scenes around the el lines


henry threadgill passes easily

into otherworldly states

his songs bloom and push forward

into the fragrant skies

like bumble bees in flight


very very curious

the dreams that grow

as diamonds in washington park

fish ponds

the future is already written

in sky lightning

for those ready to discern


pure sound and power

in breath, each note

must teeter on the tightrope

for the flute to entice forward,

the cello to draw downward to earth

magnetic poles battle

in the balance


heard it all

i heard it all

in the one-bedroom

overlooking the lilac tree

in bloom, the drug deals

on the corner and out

the tiny black speakers

too much sugar for a dime ---

was it poured into porcelain cups

in late-night edward hopper contemplation

or drunk with the dogon—

people of the dog star

who navigate all that celestial space

from red clay earth of malian midnights


eons of heat

burnt into score sheets

each note a dare to eternity

to throw down its gold key

cuz you'll hitch your circus wagon

to her and rise over

the limestone walls

of the hudson ---

east above the atlantic ---

to find a flute glimpsed years ago

in dreamtime

of chicago twilight


the alto sax line

and two tubas cannonball crush

twin guitars

sprung like jet turbines


backbeat breaks down to reveal

the cabinet of many doors:

start with jelly roll reborn

to an orchestra of windmills

whinin’ boy blues of winged antelope

hovers over the land

where the buffalo roam

the sides of nickels found

by junkstore troubadors


iconoclast? eyes the tall grass

for signs of the forbidden theatre

rolling into town

try dancing to this number

we’ll choreograph the eight petals

of lotus light that only appear

on bud billigan parade day

in lily pad revival


it’s showtime on the south side

too soon to know

if this seed will rise

into oak or baobab

let the bass be plural

and play tag with the crash cymbals

the circus wagons are on fire


so much rising up

release elements

to regain old kingdoms

of thrill magic

of the still active

kingdom of birds

risen to harmonize and ignite

what was lost on rolled scrolls


call them down now

with flute and arched bow


between major and minor

we beam in dreamtime


This poem first appeared Brilliant Corners: A Journal of Jazz and Literature



It was a weary blue

sundown in December

and the golf courses

of Milwaukee

were being drained

of a peculiar light

that reminded the painter

of a dusty penny candy

he ate as a child

one summer in Menoqua.

Weird ping of heels on the pier,

his stomach fluttering

like the fan tail

of the small sunfish

swimming beneath him.



He sits on a broken brown suitcase

or the top of a television,

feet dangling down.


He spins on the paper inner circle

of an old Stravinsky record.

The bassoon bellows loudly,

and he's off, floating wearily up,

like a week-old balloon,

to the high still corners of the room.


It is safe to come down now.

Over to an oak table.

The dark, cool wood beneath him,

he lays down to rest.


The smell of lamb and boiled cabbage

wafting up the stairs reminds him

of the Roosevelt administration

and seeing his first airplane

blink across the night sky.

He is filled with a brief strength

and moves a chair across the room.

They will notice this.

Then tired again and sitting on the floor,

hunched over with short breaths.


When night ends

he leaves the room

and through the hall window

watches the sun rise

like a bleeding plum

oozing across the landscape.





SUN RA                                                          


an ark you were, are

and always will be   

tributaries of magnificence                      

all flow to the same sea                                           


sonic cacophony                                                       

turns into beauty                                                     


of the ever-changing we                                         


see the ark rock,

roll and navigate             

levitate into galaxies

of sophisticates


john gilmore tenor lines                 

leave labyrinthine contrails            

in the skies of your mind                


ra piano figures

fly and rewind

the tapes of centuries

recorded blind


revise the future

spontaneous, combine

the benign and the unkind

reinvent the sublime

subvert sisyphus on the incline

spin gold from spools of twine


ra left his fingerprints

on clouds

dreamt out loud

released the earthbound

through the sound

of the Arkestra touching down,

the sound of the earth

spinning round

tilted kalimbas

on saturn's sacred ground

brought watts towers of music

to every town


bassism, space systems

trace the roots of your




true bliss

through blue prisms

we can hear the strut

of zoot suits

majestic carnivals

in ra's vision                 

bottom of page